Negative Feelings Play a Positive Role in our Salvation

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:4 NLT 

To me, a lot is said in the brief passage above. It tells me no one was ever saved by the Old Covenant. Those who lived and died before Jesus came were never saved by the law or by the Old Covenant. Before and after the cross everyone is saved by grace and by the New Covenant. The same law of ten commandments exist in both the Old and New Testament while it never saved anyone in the Old or New Testament. Obedience has always been the goal in both the Old and New Covenant but it was never the means to attaining salvation. It is grace that gives us obedience. See Ephesians 2:8-10

The purpose of the animal sacrifices were to help those in Old Testament times to look forward to the cross of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Many animal rights activists and animal lovers have wondered why God would design a daily sacrificial system where countless animals would be killed everyday. What we need to understand is it was not God’s plan for countless animals to be killed every day. In Exodus 12:1-6 God tells the people to take a lamb into their home on the 10th day of the month but not to kill it until the 14th day. Why did God want the lamb in their home for four days before sacrificing it? I believe it gave them time to fall in love with their little pet so that it would break their hearts to have to sacrifice it. It was not God’s plan for countless animals to be sacrificed. It was God’s plan that the sacrifice would break their hearts and they would turn from sin. Just as Samuel told Saul,

Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 NLT 

I can’t really blame those in the Old Testament who became callous in regard to the daily animal sacrifices. A while back I was praying to God and casually thanked Him for sending Jesus to die for me. As soon as I said “Thank you for dying for me” I realized I had just said that as casually as I would thank someone who bought my lunch! I had to remind myself of the awesome sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross, and that He deserved more of a thank you than someone who just treated me to lunch. As someone participating in the New Covenant I need to allow myself to fully grasp the awfulness of my sin. This is hard when we are conditioned these days to “stay positive” and avoid being negative. We love popular preachers who motivate us and make us feel good about ourselves. But do negative feelings and emotions still have a part in our New Covenant lives? James says they do.

Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. James 4:9 NLT 

Negative feelings and emotions play a positive role in our lives. They bring us to true repentance and true salvation which brings us to true joy. They teach us to avoid sin which destroys true joy. 

So I don’t become callous to the blood of Jesus the way many in Old Testament times became callous to the blood of animals, I need to keep fresh in my mind the reality of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. No wonder so many inspired hymn writers wrote, “Jesus keep me near the cross,” and “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died. My richest gain I count as loss and pour contempt on all my pride.” And “my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross.” No wonder an inspired author wrote, 

It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 83. 

This is my prayer…

Dear Jesus I am sorry for the times I thanked you for dying for me the same casual way I thank someone for buying my lunch. Also I want to express how deeply I appreciate your awesome sacrifice not just by my words or even tears alone. I need the power of your blood to not only forgive my sins but to also empower me to live a life of obedience and thanksgiving. I want everything I do to shout “I love you Jesus!” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

6: Abraham’s Seed-Teaching Plan

6: Abraham’s Seed – Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt

Key Thought: God’s true Israel is the people of faith: persons who live in a spiritual covenant relationship with Him.
May 8, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Ezekiel 16:8Deuteronomy 7:6

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What made Israel special to God?
  3. Personal Application: What message do Seventh-day Adventists have that is special? Why do we need to be careful not to think we are automatically saved just because we are Adventists? See Jeremiah 7:3-7 and Matthew 7:21-23.
  4. Case Study: Your neighbor asks you why you keep the Sabbath, saying it was only given to the Jews as a sign they were God’s people. What do you tell your neighbor?

2. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 11:8.

  1. Ask class members to share what the main idea of this text is?
  2. What are the blessings of the covenant? What are the curses?
  3. Personal Application: What role does obedience play concerning our entering the promised land? For example Israel lost some of their land to Babylon and Rome due to disobedience. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden by grace with no works of their own yet they lost it by disobedience. What lesson is there for us concerning entering the promised land and new earth?
  4. Case Study: Your neighbor tells you his pastor says once you are saved there is no way you can be lost. What do you say to your neighbor? What Bible passages do you share?

3. Have a volunteer read Galatians 3:26-29.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What promises are we heirs to? What happened to make us heirs to these promises?
  3. Personal Application: What does Paul mean by we are no longer Jew or gentile or male and female? Why is it important in light of today’s current issues to know exactly what Paul meant?
  4. Case Study: Your friend tells you that the literal nation of Israel is still God’s special nation. What do you tell your friend? What Bible passages do you use? For example was Peter talking to Jews only in 1 peter 2:9? Why or why not?

4. Have a volunteer read Deuteronomy 28:1,15

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What land was to be given and what were the obligations of the recipients?
  3. Personal Application: What promised land is given in the New Covenant? What conditions do we have in getting there?” Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

Better Promises Make a Better Covenant

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The story goes of a man who got a job chopping down trees. The first day his foreman noticed he had cut down only ten trees while the other men had cut down a hundred or so. “Oh well,” thought the foreman, “it was his first day.” But the next couple days went the same way, so the foreman decided to have a talk with the new worker. “I am sure you have noticed you are not cutting down nearly as many trees as the others are,” the foreman began. “Yes I know, Sir, but I am having trouble with this saw you gave me,” said the new worker. The foreman took a look at the saw and pulled the cord to start the motor. The buzz of the motor scared the new worker, and he jumped back shouting, “What is that sound?” 

The new worker did not realize he was not expected saw down a hundred trees in his own power. He did not realize what power was available to him. It’s the same way with us.

Many people shirk at keeping the law, thinking it is an impossibility, not realizing they were never expected to keep it in their own power, and like the power saw, there is plenty of power available.

If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and Judah.
This covenant will not be like the one
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
and led them out of the land of Egypt.
They did not remain faithful to my covenant,
so I turned my back on them, says the Lord.
But this is the new covenant I will make
with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:7-10

There are those who would have us believe that the Ten Commandments were done away with because God realized they were unreasonable and could not be obeyed. However that is not the case.

Psalms 19:7 KJV says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”

A popular urban legend tells about a captain on a battleship who spotted a light off in the distant fog and radioed the source of the light telling it to change its course 15 degrees to avoid a collision. The response came back that the ship needed to change its course instead. The arrogant sea captain once again demanded the other vessel change its course instead, threatening reprisals, if his demands were not met. The response was, “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

So it is in life. Many people want the law to be changed just like the ship wanted the lighthouse to change, but lighthouses don’t move out of the way and neither does the law. The law is perfect. The law does not need to change. The law is not faulty. Hebrews 8:8 NLT says the fault was not with the law but with the people. So why would God change the law when the law was not the problem?

The New Covenant was not an afterthought after the first covenant did not work. The new covenant was actually God’s original plan. What we call the “old covenant” was actually man’s idea – thinking he could save himself by his own strength and effort. It was not a faith response. (See Heb. 4:2) Man’s effort failed, so in what we call the New Testament God re-introduces His original plan from the Old Testament, and says “Are you ready to give up trying to do it on your own? and let me write my law on your heart Myself?

The fault of the people was in trying to keep the law in their own power. God made a covenant with the people, and instead of them asking for God’s help they confidently replied,

“We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” Exodus 19:8 NLT

God knew this was never going to work from the get-go. He knew they could not keep His Law in their own power. This is why God says in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah 31:33 NLT,

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

You see, the old covenant was not called old because it was the first covenant. It was called old because it was a useless covenant that God never asked them to make. He never asked Abraham to have a son on his own. He never asked us to keep the commandments on our own. This is what Paul is talking about in Hebrews 8:6 NLT when He says the new covenant is, “based on better promises.”

In the “old” covenant the people in Exodus 19:8 were the ones making promises God never asked them to make. I don’t need to tell you how worthless man’s promises are. The new covenant is based on better promises because they are God’s promises!

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:4 NLT

The law was never the problem. The problem was the people and their worthless promises. Even in the Old Testament we find the new and better covenant when Abraham becomes the father of Isaac, based on God’s promise. We find the new and better covenant based on better promises in Jeremiah 31:33 when God is promising to write and establish the perfect law in the hearts of men, not by their own power and promises, but by His power and promises.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School Lesson here.

What did Jesus Mean by “Fulfill” and ‘Till” in Matthew 5:17-18?

This week’s Sabbath School lesson. 

The Sabbath before and after the cross. 

Seventh-day Adventists are familiar with something Jesus said in the sermon on the mount.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one  jot or one  tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV

We understand that Jesus was endorsing the law. Some though have tried to say that once Jesus fulfilled everything that He then did away with the law. They claim Jesus said “till” all is fulfilled. So did Jesus mean the law would only last till He fulfilled everything on the cross? Well let’s look at how the world “till” is used in Scripture. Paul tells Timothy,

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13 NKJV

Did Paul mean for Timothy to stop reading and exhorting with doctrine once he got there? After all he said, “Till I come.” Of course not. Just like today, if you child is struggling with her homework and you tell her, “I will be home to help you in a few minutes. Hang in there till I get there,” you don’t mean for her to give up once you get there. Just as by saying “till I get there” you did not mean for her to stop once you got there, so Jesus did not mean for us to stop keeping the law once He “fulfilled” it. By fulfilling the law Jesus showed us how to keep the law fully. To fill means to make full, and Jesus showed us how to keep the fullness of the law by fulfilling the law .Some have the idea that Jesus emptied the law by filling it. Yet logic shows us to fulfill is to make full and not to make empty.

We see this truth as it is in Jesus in Matthew 3:15 Jesus tells John to baptize him to fulfill all righteousness. Once Jesus fulfilled the rite of baptism did he then abolish it? No. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus told his disciples to go baptize. By fulfilling baptism Jesus gave us all an example to continue following instead of discarding. Likewise by fulfilling the law Jesus gave us an example to continue in the law instead of discarding the law. We see that truth as it is in Jesus, that while no one was ever saved or will ever be saved by the law in either the Old or New Testament, the law is still our guide. Jesus shows us how to fulfill the law by being our example. He tells us, If you love me, Keep my commandments.” John 14;15.

 

Galatians; An Overview

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

To read the book of Galatians click here.  To read this week’s SS lesson click here.

For the Sabbath School lesson phone app. click here.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7

In Paul’s day people were already perverting the gospel. How do you pervert the gospel? Put self in it.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20

Notice the pure gospel that Paul preaches has no self in it. He preaches a “Not I but Christ” gospel. So many people pervert the gospel by adding self. I have heard parents tell their kids, “Do the best you can do, and then when you have done your best Jesus will help you with the rest.” That is a me plus Christ gospel. The gospel is not me plus Christ, it is not I but Christ. Zero me. 100% Christ.

While at an Oklahoma Adventist Camp meeting, ,many moons ago, I heard a minister tell a story. Sorry I don’t remember his name, but I will never forget the story. It went like this. A man was on his way to a breakfast diner. There was one parking space left open by the front door. The man started for the space when he saw a man coming the other way who wanted the same space. The first man’s first reaction was to give it the gas and take the closest spot before the other man got there. But he had yielded himself to Christ that morning, so he let off the gas, let the other guy take the spot while he drove farther down and parked. When he got inside, the second man thanked him for letting him have the closer spot. The first man said, “That was not me.” The second man said well then who was it? The first man said, “It was Jesus. I would have taken the closer parking space!” So you see, whenever we do something right, we can be sure of one thing, it was not me. It was Jesus. Not I but Christ.

We also pervert the gospel when we add self effort, which is legalism by the way, and we also add legalism when we replace God’s law with manmade laws. We also pervert the gospel when we add lies. For example, John 3:16 says the unbeliever will perish, but many tell the lie that they will be tormented for all eternity instead. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment in hell.

We also pervert the gospel when we alter our preaching or worship services to please the ego of man. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Gal 2:16

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:3

These verses make it clear we are not saved by the works of the flesh but by the faith of Jesus. Notice it is not even our own faith that saves us. It is the faith of Jesus!

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:6

Faith does not do away with good works, faith works. It works by love. The legalistic motivation of hoping for a reward or avoiding punishment are gone. We work, but not to get to heaven or stay out of hell. We work because we love Jesus because He first loved us!

 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  Galatians 5:16-17

The spirit gives us victory over the flesh. The flesh is legalism. Some have the idea that legalism is where you keep God’s law. The law is a part of the gospel too. The difference is how it is achieved. With legalism we keep the law by our own power for our own glory. With the gospel we keep the law by God’s power for His glory.

Galatians 4 made this clear. For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.  Galatians 4:22-24

God promised Abraham a son. All Abraham had to do was believe and the son would be born. Some people have told me Abraham still had to do something  as this was not a virgin birth. Think about it. Sara’s womb was dead, so it might as well have been a virgin birth. All God needed was Abraham to trust His promise. This is God’s covenant, where we trust His promises. Abraham though set out to make his own covenant based on his own effort and too Hagar to wife. Abraham had to be circumcised so he could cast away the confidence he had in his own flesh. He trusted his own flesh to do that which God promised to do for and through him. ‘

Notice, the end result is still a child being born. The difference is Abraham’s way had self in it. When Abraham learned to trust God’s promise there was fruit and the fruit was real. So today, when we cast away the confidence in our own flesh, we will have fruit. Some think that when we get rid of legalism that we get rid of standards. The gospel does not get rid of standards. It helps us reach those standards, by trusting God instead of the works of the flesh.

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.  Galatians 5:24-26

Again, with the gospel we put away the effort and pride of the flesh and we reap the fruit of the work of the Spirit for the glory of God.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14